Resigned to a backup role behind Tomas Vokoun, Marc-Andre Fleury says he’s only thinking about the present.
Mostly because he doesn’t want to think about the future.
That’s what the Penguins goalie told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review on Wednesday, suggesting his future is Pittsburgh is cloudy at best.
“I’m trying not to think about it,” Fleury said. “I don’t want to think about it.”
The numbers on Fleury don’t look good. He’s 28, with two years remaining on a seven-year, $35 million deal that carries a $5 million annual cap hit.
His playoff stats this year (2-2, .891 save percentage, 3.40 GAA) and last (2-4, .834 save percentage, 4.63 GAA) are incredibly concerning.
He plays on a team that has two huge contractual decisions to make after 2013-14 — UFAs Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang — and plays for a GM, Ray Shero, that has two compliance buyouts at his disposal.
So, what does it all mean?
The Pens don’t have any real goaltending prospects in the system.
They selected OHL Sault Ste. Marie netminder Matt Murray in the third round of the 2012 draft, and do have Jeff Zatkoff and Brad Thiessen with AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, where they won the Harry “Hap” Holmes trophy this year for fewest goals allowed.
But Zatkoff and Thiessen are 25 and 27, respectively.
Vokoun, obviously, is not Pittsburgh’s long-term solution in goal. He’s a 36-year-old journeyman that’ll be a free agent after 2014.
And, according to the Tribune-Review, there’s a slight chance he might not be the short-term solution either:
Coach Dan Bylsma has consistently declined to publicly commit to Vokoun, who has gone 6-1-1 on the strength of a .941 save percentage and 1.85 goals-against average.
Earlier this week, Bylsma appeared to plant a seed for The Flower to again bloom for the Penguins.
“He’s been practicing extremely well, and I think he’s ready to go in there and stop the puck when he gets that chance, when he gets that opportunity,” Bylsma said of Fleury on Monday.
Whatever the case, it promises to be an interesting summer when it comes to Pittsburgh’s crease conundrum.